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Help Me Choose!

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,568
    A reporter is hoping to interview car-shoppers under 34 years old to learn whether they are interested in the new "near-premium" offerings from Acura, Audi, Buick and Lexus. Thanks for responding to PR@edmunds.com by Thursday, March 29, 2012 with your daytime contact info and a sense of whether you think those vehicles are well-suited to you and your peers.

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  • So here's the story, I'm about to graduate college, and will most likely be moving to Los Angeles in the next year or so to continue my education. I am looking for a new or slightly used sedan or hatch. I currently drive a 2001 camry LE, and while that thing is boring, it's also damn near indestructible. My budget is roughly 23-25k. So far, I've been considering the toyota camry, subaru impreza, hyundai elantra, etc... Most important to me are reliability and that "fun" factor. Right now I'm leaning towards the subaru but I don't really need AWD, although it would be nice. Give me your thoughts on these cars or suggest something better! BTW the car will MOST LIKELY be automatic, although nothing is for certain just yet. Also, I think I'll be avoiding the luxury brands for the most part due to maintenance costs and the overall image associated with them. Thanks everyone!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,722
    Mazda3i Touring hatch (or sedan). For that "fun" factor. Also economical.

    Impreza is a good choice also but more expensive than the Mazda3, less economical, and handling is not as crisp. If you don't really need AWD, then... why?

    Or used... lots of great options including TSX, G25/37.
  • For the most "fun" factor a Mazdaspeed3 lists for 26K to 28K but can be had for $23K to $25K in my area (Northern Virginia) per deales price listings online. This car has also be reliable but probably not a bulletproof as you current boring ride.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,334
    Well if you find your Camry boring, I have no idea why you are considering another Camry. The base impreza and the elantra aren't exactly exciting options, either.

    Mazda3 is not a bad suggestion.

    If you look around and lay off the options, you could find a low-mileage '08-'09 328i in your pricerange. And '09-'10 TSX would be more fun that at least the 3 options you've listed. A '10 CTS 3.6 could also fit under your cap.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • Thanks all for the input. A few responses:
    1. So am I mistaken in believing that mazda has poor reliability/dependability down the road?
    2. While I do like the TSX/328i/other luxury brands, I don't really like the stigma or image associated with them. Furthermore, maintenance will be far more expensive and I'll be a student for virtually the next 4 years.
    3. Despite being boring, my camry has never given me real trouble. Its so ******* dependable I feel almost guilty not going with it. (the safe bet for my money). Aside from that, it's comfortable and practical but just so boring...
  • joeyh1joeyh1 Posts: 2
    Time to replace the 02 Bonneville. I haven't driven anything yet, but I'm thinking along the lines of a 09-10 Sonata, Altima, Mazda 6, Optima....what else should I be looking at? I'm usually a solo driver, so I could also do a decent sized coupe. I just like to have a fair amount of metal around me and a roomy driving position. In fact, a well appointed interior is probably one of my most desired points. An Azera is probably a little pricey since I'd like to stay in mid teens. I'd welcome any thoughts.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,876
    1. So am I mistaken in believing that mazda has poor reliability/dependability down the road?

    Wha....??? Why would you say this? No one has really intimated that that's an issue. I had fantastic luck with my Protege that I beat the crap out of.

    Seriously, if you want reliability - with outside of warranty bets - your Camry is really a great bargain. If you want driving fun, within your budget, with a decent warranty ( B2B)... move on.

    You are very smart to not consider the entry-level luxury category. The routine replacements are much more expensive.

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  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,722
    So you want reliable-as-a-Toyota. But fun. Up to mid-$20s.

    How about this little number?

    http://www.scion.com/cars/FR-S/
  • You're right on the money save for 4 doors!! I think a sedan is more up my alley, im going for that more mature look.
  • So am I mistaken in believing that mazda has poor reliability/dependability down the road?
    YES!

    I have a 2005 Mazda6s, 75000 miles, runs and works great. My son has a 2007 Mazda3s Hatch, runs and works great at 54000 miles. I also have a 2009 Mazda CX-9 Touring. 38000 miles, no warrenty issues. So far the best SUV/CUV I have ever owned.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,334
    Mazda has good reliability.

    I don't think there is a stigma associated with a TSX, personally. It is just a European Accord.

    I didn't realize money was much of a concern when spending $24k on a car. If that's the case, you should be looking at used vehicles or base economy models, such as a base mazda3, and sock away any extra funds.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Wha....??? Why would you say this? No one has really intimated that that's an issue.

    I have. My Mazda3's engine threw a rod at about 72k miles. My property manager had a Mazda3 who's engine went at 20k, and then at 65k. The air conditioning on mine never really worked well. :sick:

    Then again, while it was drivable it was an absolute BLAST to drive. :shades:
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,238
    Can't really say I can disagree with the rest here. Nothing wrong with the Mazda 3. No reliability problems as I have ever heard. You might even be able to score a Honda Accord for that dollar amount. It would handle and drive better than any of the other ones you mentioned.

    Can't for the life of me understand why AWD is desirable for you, given where you're going to live. But, to each his own.

    In short, you don't have any bad choices here.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,722
    Heck, you have lots of years to go for the "more mature look". Maybe someday soon you'll be married with kids and can drive the epitome of the more mature look, the mini-van. So why not get a fun sporty car while you can? Your next opportunity will be your mid-life crisis, about 25-30 years from now. :P
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    Here's my only question.

    You said, "I'm about to graduate college, and will most likely be moving to Los Angeles in the next year or so to continue my education."

    So do you already have a job to pay for this car or are you going to grad school? I'd say to save you money, pay off your debts, and keep your boring but "indestructible" Camry until you're all done with college and are fully employed. My apologies if I misunderstood something in your post.
  • Great input all, thanks!
    The mazda 3 is looking real promising, but any input on hatch vs. sedan?
    Also, I have some money tucked away for a new car, and the parental unit will pitch in as a graduation gift, as my camry with nearly 200k miles is about to die. Ill be going to medical school in LA so no, I wont have any money from a job but my parents have agreed to help with maintenance costs, that's why the cost of maintenance is important. Backy, you have a great point and I'm seriously considering something more sporty. By that same token however, the mazda 3 is sporty and can seat 5 comfortably (I like that alot). In response to the AWD, it's not desirable per say, but because I like subaru, having it standard isn't exactly a negative trait.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,722
    I like the Mazda3i hatch for its versatility. Also I think it looks better than the sedan. It's #1 on my shopping list for my next car, but that won't be until next year. Also looking at the Golf, Elantra GT (coming this summer), Focus SE, and Impreza--all hatches.
  • Backy, is that impreza or impreza wrx hatch? I also am partial to the mazda 3 hatch over sedan.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,876
    You'll have a warranty the whole time you're in med school, so at least repair costs should be almost nothing, if anything. The Mazda3 will be nicer to you on MPG, and gas is expensive out there. I mean, it's expensive everywhere, but especially out there. Even if your parents pitch in $ for gas, that's fewer $ they have to spend on you elsewhere, if it's going into the gas tank. :)

    I think the Mazda3 hatch is a perfect choice - fun to drive, good on MPGs, not too pricey, and it's common enough (without being bland) that you shouldn't have parts/service issues anywhere. I'm not sure, but perhaps because AWD isn't necessary in LA, Subarus may be less common - they certainly have fewer dealerships overall, so if you have any recalls or work that needs to be done by a manufacturer-associated dealership, that may be an issue (might check for dealerships near the neighborhood you intend to live in).

    You or your parents should call up your insurance agent as well. Tell them which vehicles you're considering - there could be a VAST difference in insurance costs between various vehicles. I've found agents to be helpful there. While they might like the extra money, they really don't like a customer being shocked/angry when they find out their premiums have just gone up a lot, unexpectedly. You're going to go up anyway, in all likelihood, because the Camry probably has you pretty low, but you should know what you're looking at in case you need a "tie breaker."

    If I were your age, with your budget, I'd be driving myself insane right now trying to decide between the Mazda3 and the Elantra. I love Subarus too, but you'll have many vehicles in your future, and I'd save that for when i could enjoy the benefits of AWD.

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  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,722
    Normal Impreza 5-door, Premium trim (since base trim doesn't get you much).
  • I think you're right. Thanks for the input!
    BTW, does the elantra gt slated for summer come in 4 door hatch or just coupe?
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,876
    Hi Joey - sorry we missed your question in our flurry of posts.

    You have a good list there. It sounds like you're looking for just a little bit more "driving fun" than the Bonneville offered you, without sacrificing space and a nice interior. I like all of the choices you mentioned, but they are going to drive differently, so a day of test-driving might be in order for you.

    What is your budget? That would help with other recommendations. You said teens, but are you OK with upper teens? So far, I'm not thinking of anything you've omitted that I'd be inclined to recommend... except...

    If you like sporty, roomy, and would consider a coupe, have you looked at the 2010 Hyundai Genesis coupe? Looks to be priced comparably to the 2010 Sonata, and has lots of metal, IMO. I have NOT been inside of one, so I can't comment on the interior room, but it's a real looker (again, IMO).

    The Optima is going to be the bargain of the bunch.

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  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,876
    According to our astute and hard-researching members, it will come in just about every flavor:
    http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.f255528/

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  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,722
    edited April 2012
    Actually, the Elantra GT will be available only as a 5-door hatch, in the USA at least. The Elantra sedan comes in GLS and Limited trims. The new coupe will come in GS and SE trim.
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,330
    im going for that more mature look.

    Nothing says mature like a Buick.

    A Buick Verano should be up your alley!
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,330
    I have. My Mazda3's engine threw a rod at about 72k miles. My property manager had a Mazda3 who's engine went at 20k, and then at 65k. The air conditioning on mine never really worked well.

    Then again, while it was drivable it was an absolute BLAST to drive.


    I agree.... Mazda's reputation went into the pits when they lowered their warranty (I believe in 2005) by 25%, or from 4 years to 3 years, and equivalent ratio of loss in mileage as well.

    I just can't let them get away with that until they have as many red dots as Honda or Toyota.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,722
    edited April 2012
    The Verano is a nice little car, saw it at the auto show last month. Interior is especially nice. But it will be awhile before it comes with the really good powertrain, i.e. the turbo maybe with a 6-speed stick. But starting price is in the OP's ballpark. Reliability? Hmmm... will it be up to Toyota levels? Or even Mazda levels?

    Could get a nicely loaded Mazda3i Touring hatch for same money as a base Verano... more fun to drive, more versatility, better economy. Not as nice an interior though.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,876
    Thanks for the correction - I skimmed rather quickly.

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  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,330
    Reliability? Hmmm... will it be up to Toyota levels? Or even Mazda levels?

    If your asking me what I predict Buick Verano's reliability will be..... I'll point out GM is only alive because of a massive bailout... and Cruzes seem to catch fire... which the Verano is based on... so... yeah....
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